peteg's blog - noise - theatre - 2015 06 21 TheBeautifulDaysOfAranjuez

Theatre Y: The Beautiful Days of Aranjuez by Peter Handke.

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$20 + $2 booking fee = $22.00, booked 2015-06-04. A beautiful day for cycling around Chicago. Had a so-so lunch at Pei Wei, and got suckered by Parts and Labor, a theme pub on Milwaukee with a veneer less than an inch thick. Coffee? Not really, but please be seated anyway! Grr.

This is a summer dialogue between a man and a woman, more presences than characters, set in a forest or garden. The premise is that there be no action, just talking. The bloke is a botanist (a nod-to-self by Handke), while the woman is emotional. As Melissa said afterwards: the man looks at the world, and the woman at the man.

It was damn hot in the back of the church (hotter than hell, some may say), pretty much packed, and the beer beforehand left me feeling spacey. I enjoyed the interaction of the two actors, the sting of the man's occasionally prurient questions, and the woman's evocation of her past. It went all Hal Hartley at times, with the two talking past each other. (I'm thinking of The Unbelievable Truth, where Adrienne Shelley doesn't get a lot of understanding from her highschool sweetheart.) An apple passes between the pair, a clear riff on another kind of subverted creation. I found it meditative and may have to go back to study the filigree.

Afterwards Melissa Lorraine and her co-star Kevin V. Smith held court over more beer outside, in a narrow space running alongside the church, with Kevin's parents and another older couple. I hope this helps them to decompress. I got talking to her husband Evan at some point about philosophy, and later Melissa about the kinds of works she's keen to realise. Pressed on the misogyny of the work (which, in my valueless opinion, was plausibly realistic), she commented that as a woman she would have gone further. I noted afterwards that the playwright copped some stick for his commentary on the Serbian/Croat war in the 1990s; in particular, Rushdie took a spray that I presumably read in the late 1990s in his essay collection Step Across this Line.

Tony Adler got into it. I wish he'd expand on his beef with their production of Happy Days; that was enough to bring me to everything Theatre Y does while I'm here. Jacob Davis.